What we’re all living through right now truly has no precedent. If you think back to similar events that have had impacts remotely close to what we’re seeing with the coronavirus, the actual events themselves did not last long. Even a natural disaster, a truly life-altering event, allows society to begin to recover right after. But not with this. With little clarity or consistency coming from the powers that be, people are left wondering what to do.
That lack of information is reaching every part of society, including our industry. People are rightly concerned with how to keep operating their campgrounds and businesses and maintain their livelihood.
Part of the equation, besides managing the day-to-day operation, is marketing. Our site map division, AGS, works with a thousand campgrounds and tens of thousands of local businesses that advertise in campground guides. I’ve spoken with several marketing representatives and local businesses all over the country on what they’re hearing. The information ranges based on what part of the country you’re in, which only confuses our common customer, the RVer.
Below are a few things we’re telling our campgrounds to not only keep the business they have but to start planning for life after the virus.
- Information is the most important thing. If you’re open, post it on the home page of your website and Facebook page now. Campground owners around the country are getting that very question and your online presence should state it clearly. Since most RVers now get their information online, this will help cut down the calls coming into your park. Furthermore, reassure both current and prospective customers what you’re doing at your business to ensure their health.
- Keep updating that information as you receive it — whether it’s a change in your calendar of events or certain guidelines your city has enacted, the flow of information is coming fast and your customers need to know the details if they’re going to continue camping with you. Email blasts to all current and former customers helps as well.
- Be proactive in inquiring about current customers extending their stay. Several may be in a situation where they cannot, or will not, return home. The campgrounds offer a unique opportunity to accommodate folks without the issues that hotels and airlines have. Additionally, with spring break extended throughout the country, parents may need a place to wait it out with the kids.
- Reach out to your local businesses and do what you can to continue to help them provide the important products and services your customers need. Every campground currently open has guests in the campground at this moment and they’ll still need things. For example, work with a local restaurant about a take-out or delivery schedule. There are several businesses in your community that will be affected far more than campgrounds and they’ll need all the help they can get.
- Keep. Marketing. Whatever trend you see in your business, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to market your park when the worst is over. Especially if you see a decrease in business, you’re going to need to promote yourself to get it back. Many agencies and businesses are offering generous payment terms, which you should absolutely take advantage of, but you don’t want to punt on the entire year.
As a haven for millions of people, campgrounds and the industry are in a unique position to provide some solace and comfort in these trying times. It’s important to keep providing a consistent and familiar experience to your customers, as they may not be getting it from anywhere else. You can keep your business open and make it through this. Already, There are stories out there about the positive trajectory of the industry, even in hard-hit areas.
It’s truly a unique time in the industry and one which will be talked about for years after. But as we all know, there are still businesses to run and we all need to do everything we can to keep it that way.